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Awkwardette’s Ill-Advised Guide to Getting it On: Rejection Etiquette

Dear Guys and Girls of the World Who Drop off the Face of the Planet After What You Led Me to Believe Was a Really Good Date,

Look, I understand that it’s really fucking hard for you to go on a date, or several, that may not have lived up to your expectations. The company was nice enough, but there’s no sparks for you, no chemistry, no whatever. The other person is obviously into you, and it would hurt YOU so badly to see them hurt. So, you end the date on a nice note, perhaps an open-ended note that leaves a little room for interpretation, because your generous soul wants to give them maybe a few minutes of happiness.  You gotta give “˜em hope.

Way to rub it in, man! I really liked you, but I had no idea you were a freaking saint! You’re so in tune with my feelings, so sensitive, and you don’t want to be the one to hurt me; it’s truly sweet. And I appreciate it a ton. No. Really. Obsessing over whether you didn’t text me back because you think I’m a freak of nature or because your body is at the bottom of the Hudson River is totally not as bad as someone politely not wasting my time by saying, “Hey, I had a good time, but I don’t think this is what I’m looking for,” saving me time and mental energy.

Waaahhhhh someone really likes me, and I don't like them back waaahh life is so hard #notbitter

Now I am truly aware of what I am missing out on. It sucks so much, because before we went out, I was telling myself, “Man, where are all the spineless bastards in this city?” And then there was you.

So, long story short, that guy never texted me back.

All facetiousness aside, I am not surprised. I had a gut feeling after he didn’t respond to the text message within a few hours that he wasn’t really feeling it. That’s totally fair, and I respect that. I’ve been there. But where do people get the idea that the best way to handle these things is to totally ignore the person? He didn’t even have to say it in person or over the phone. He had an easy way out because I texted him–after only one date, I think a “not interested” text is more than sufficient.

Do I seem mentally unstable? Do I come across as unhinged? Because this happens to me frequently. Frankly, I find it insulting. I am not some delicate flower, and their rejection is not some gust of wind that will cause me to wilt. That metaphor is terrible, but you know what I mean. I can handle it. I’ve handled it plenty before, and I’m sure I will handle it plenty again in the future. What is really difficult for me is the uncertainty. It’s awful, and people who would put others through that are selfish.

But not hearing from someone makes me replay the date over and over in my mind, trying to figure out where I went wrong. Was it because I made fun of him for bringing up “honey mustard” when we were discussing chicken wings (I lived in Buffalo for 8 years; he had it coming)? Was I not smart enough? Was I not pretty enough? Did I smell badly? So on and so forth. But when I’ve been rejected properly, that happens, but not nearly to the same degree. It gives me a chance to easily accept the rejection and to move on quickly. In fact, the best rejection I’ve received has actually left me feeling pretty good about myself.

So clearly they are not avoiding the rejection for my benefit. They’re

ur doin it rong

doing it for themselves. They probably assume ignoring phone calls and dodging text messages is easier. I can tell you that it is not. That mathematically (yes, scientifically) makes no sense. If you text me that you’re not interested after my initial text message, then there’s no gray area. There’s no subtext for me to get, because you put the actual text out there. You won’t hear from me anymore. But if you don’t respond to the first text, it might be followed by a second text, followed by a phone call, maybe an email, and maybe another text, because I am a good person, and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I don’t want you to be a douchebag, even if you don’t want to date me.

Now, I should learn, for my own benefit, how to take a hint. If a guy likes me, he will text me. I don’t need to remind him that he likes me, because if he’s into me, he’ll be thinking about me just as much as I’m thinking about him, and responding to my outreaches will be a reflex. It doesn’t matter how soon after the date I contact him, because the guy I want to be with isn’t the kind of guy who would give a shit about stupid conventions like that. If anything, he’ll find my eagerness endearing, right?

Maybe I wasn’t so eager though. Let’s look at the data.

Remember that highly scientific poll I asked y’all to participate in about post-date texting etiquette? The results are in! And are, well, inconclusive to say that least.

Thirty-nine percent of you say that a text or an email within 24 hours of the date is best practice. Thirty-two percent of you will wait another 24-48 hours after that, and twenty-one percent of you don’t contact at all”¦ you wait for that motherfucker to come crawling to you. I respect that. There were a couple of you who do weird things like use a phone and actually call someone. Who does that anymore, amirite?

Greg Behrendt: A man with this hair should never be given the power of being right

So yeah, this data gives us a whole lot of nothing to go by. Fortunately, Becca Clason created a handy dandy flowchart to help us when we’re desperate to know how to proceed textually in our relationships. According to this flowchart? Greg Behrendt, was, as usual, right. Apparently this dude just wasn’t that into me. Or just wasn’t that into seeing me again. I think it’s important to note that those two things do not mean the same, and my self-worth does not hinge on hearing back from some dude who doesn’t even have the cojones to send me a polite “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Oh, um, and since I moved on and stuff (clearly we all write lengthy pretend-fuck-you letters to people we are totes moved on from), you should probably follow me on Twitter.  Maybe y’all could @ reply me some of your thoughts on rejection. How do you do it? Any good rejection stories you can share with us?





By awkwardette

Michelle M. aka awkwardette is a multi-disciplinarian. She moonlights as an activist while earning her big bucks making the internet easier to use. She also writes about pop music on and aspires to be Amelia Fletcher when she grows up. She prefers listening to The Jesus and Mary Chain when doin' it.

6 replies on “Awkwardette’s Ill-Advised Guide to Getting it On: Rejection Etiquette”

One of the greatest joys of my single life came a couple months before I met my now-husband. I went on a date, and it was really great (for me). We got along, he was cute, we had a good meal and then talked for two hours straight at a pub. I couldn’t wait to see him again.

As it turned out, he did not feel the same. I emailed him the following day to thank him for dinner, and say that I had a great time. He wrote me back within minutes, causing my heart to leap at first, and then to fall: “I had a great time too, and it was fun getting to know you. That being said, I just do not think we are a match. All the best.”

This. Email. Ruled. Seriously! I was an online dating expert by this point, and had experienced the “fall into the abyss after the great date” guys over and over again. It sucks so hard, the wondering and the over-analyzing. Getting this email kind of sucked–but only for a minute! After that it was “oh well, better luck with that other guy I just lined up a date with.”

Seriously, it’s not hard to do. He wrote me a 30-word email that freed me from the torment of waiting for the post-date contact, and rejected me totally kindly and without malice. It was tremendous. Everyone should do this!

Ahhh, totally! I once went on two dates with a guy, and I was super into him. I daydreamed about him, all that crap, was planning all of our dates. And one day he was like “Oh, we should totally hang out again, but is it cool if we’re just friends? I think you’re great, but I’m not really feeling any chemistry.” I was sad for about 20 minutes. Then we hung out again as friends, and I realized I probably shouldn’t date him anyway. Two weeks later, I met a guy who I dated for over a year–I don’t know if I would have bothered hitting the pavement if I was still hung up over the first guy.

Ugh.  Shit.  I am this person.  I hate the idea of rejecting someone outright because I project that rejection back on my own anxieties and shame issues and it makes me a panicky depressed ball of uselessness.  Which is my own issue, and if I listen to my therapist, I need to learn to tolerate that for the sake of not being that guy.  And she’s right, as usual, damn her.


I recently went on a date with a friend of a friend who I had hung out with in a group scenario before and I figured I’d see how it went and it was a bit meh.  So now I need to do the right thing and tell him while he’s a very nice guy full of interesting history facts and I’d be fine hanging out with him as buddies and in our group of mutual friends, I’m not really getting any chemistry out of it.


Of course, my imagination goes off assuming that in doing so I’ll make it forever intolerable awkward to be in the same room as this person and oh dear god why did he even have to ask me to go get tea WHY OH WHY!??!!  And then I look like that crying baby picture.

Don’t worry about hurting his feelings, and don’t worry about looking like a dick; it’s not like you want to date him anyway.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished that a guy would just straight-up dump me so I could hate him and move on.

Chances are, you probably are going to hurt his feelings, especially if he likes you. But you’re gonna hurt his feelings a lot less than if you weren’t straight up with him and put his crush on you to rest. Also, I speak from experience when I say that running into someone who was dodgy and flakey to me is way more awkward than running into someone who I saw once or twice but told me he didn’t dig me (in fact the latter isn’t all that awkward).

I totally get how you feel though.

I really hate it when guys do this (although girls do it too in equal measure to guys).  They make a decision about me but fail to tell me about it and get frustrated when I don’t magically guess what they’re thinking.  It’s especially dumb if we met in a place we both frequent.  He’ll really just assume he’s never going to see me again even though he probably will.

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